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Possum Skin Cloak Story

Reconnecting Communities and Culture

Culture is the framework through which we connect to our Country, our Belonging. It defines and makes us who we are. Our language, stories, songs, dance, artefacts, cultural knowledge and practices demonstrate our continuing connections.” — Vicki Couzens. 

Possum skin cloaks were a vital part of Aboriginal peoples lives in pre-European times. To make a cloak was a very labour intensive and time-consuming process. Telling the story of the Possum Skin Cloak strengthens cultural identity, connection to country and health, and education and justice within an indigenous community context. The impact of the revival of possum skin cloaks as a community cultural practice has been significant and profound.

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Vicki Couzens
VC Indigenous Research Fellow
School: Design and Social Context

vicki.couzens@rmit.edu.au

Dr Couzens is Gunditjmara from the Western Districts of Victoria. She acknowledges her ancestors and elders who guide her work.

Dr Couzens has worked in Aboriginal community affairs for almost 40 years. Her contributions in the reclamation, regeneration and revitalisation of cultural knowledge and practice extend across the arts and creative cultural expression’ spectrum including language revitalisation, ceremony, community arts, public art, visual and performing arts, and writing. She is a Senior Knowledge Custodian for Possum Skin Cloak Story and Language Reclamation and Revival in her Keerray Woorroong Mother Tongue.

Vicki is employed at RMIT as a Vice Chancellors Indigenous Research Fellow developing her Project watnanda koong meerreeng , tyama-ngan malayeetoo (together body and country, we know long time)’ The key objective of this Project is to produce model/​s, pathways and resources for continuing the reinvigoration of Aboriginal Ways of Knowing Being and Doing with a special focus on language revitalisation.

Creative Care

Exploring creative practice and teaching in health and wellbeing

We are an interdisciplinary research team that explores creative practice and teaching in relation to health and wellbeing. 

In August 2019, Creative Care presented Hand Festival at Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne. The Creative Care team, along with Professor Rebecca Hilton (University Arts Stockholm), organised the social practice choreographed event designed with a focus on the hand for trust and intimate hand activities. Seventeen artists, colleagues, student nurses from RMIT, and Peter Mac staff and patients participated in hand drawing, origami, hand massages, wax modelling, mbira, knitting, cats cradle and more. 

Later that month, we ran Hands + Mouth: Boundaries of the Body, an experimental and participatory world cafe” event which explored the boundaries of the body at the end of life (touch, embodiment, gestures and more) through roving conversations about end of life scenarios with a focus on death and dying, ageing and illness and how they intersect with culture, the senses and place.

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If you would like to get involved with this project, fill out the form below or reach out to project leaders via the contact info provided alongside each bio.

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COVIDSafe

Perceptions and Practices

Recognising the social, civil and governance impact of the COVID19 crisis, COVIDSafe: Perceptions and Practices highlights how Australian’s are understanding and responding to these changes at a community and personal level. 

We want to hear your voice.

This research project responds to the shifting environment of COVID19, exploring questions as they emerge. Questions include:

• From government contact tracing through the COVIDSafe app, to more informal practices such as details at cafes and restaurants, how do Australians respond to their information and locations being monitored and recorded? 

• With the emergence of new norms in public space such as mask wearing and social distancing, how have people adjusted to differing understandings of civic responsibility toward public health? 

• How is ethnicity, age and background informing responses to public health messaging?

• To what extent do individuals perceive the COVID-19 crisis as bringing about community solidarity. Or, alternately, bringing to the fore existing inequalities? 

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19, this research seeks to understand how we negotiate, trust and relate to the government, the community and each other.

You can find out more details about the research through this Participant Information Sheet.

If you are in anyway struggling during the COVID19 crisis, there are a range of free services and support available that can assist you or a loved one at this time that you can access here.

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If you would like to get involved with this project, fill out the form below or reach out to project leaders via the contact info provided alongside each bio.

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People


Larissa Hjorth
Distinguished Professor and Director, Design and Creative Practice
School: Enabling Capability Platforms

RMIT staff profile
larissa.hjorth@rmit.edu.au

Larissa Hjorth is a digital ethnographer, artist, Distinguished Professor and director of the Design & Creative Practice ECP platform at RMIT University. With Professor Heather Horst, she co-founded the Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC). Previously, Hjorth was Deputy Dean, Research & Innovation, in the School of Media & Communication (2013−2016). Hjorth served on the inaugural Australian Research Council (ARC) Engagement & Impact Pilot study assessment panel for humanities and creative practice.

Hjorth studies the socio-cultural dimensions of mobile media and play practices in the Asia-Pacific region with an emphasis on interdisciplinary, collaborative and cross-cultural approaches. She has published a dozen co-authored books, edited over a dozen Handbooks/​Companions and has over 40 journal articles. 

More recently, Hjorth’s work has become concerned with how we can bring creative, social and design solutions to the growing ageing populations and, in turn, how we might consider scenarios of what it means to die well. She is also studying how our more-than-human” companions can teach us about new media in everyday life. Hjorth’s last book, Haunting Hands (Oxford Uni Press) looked at how mobile media is being deployed in situations of grief and trauma, her previous book explored how art practice can teach us new acumen into the climate change debate.

Hjorth’s books include Haunting Hands (with Cumiskey 2017), Screen Ecologies (with Pink, Sharp & Williams 2016), Digital Ethnography (Pink et al. 2016) Mobile Media in the Asia-Pacific (2009), Games & Gaming (2010), Online@AsiaPacific (with Arnold 2013), Understanding Social Media (with Hinton 2013), and Gaming in Locative, Social and Mobile Media (with Richardson 2014).


Hugh Davies
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
School: Games

Personal website
hugh.davies@rmit.edu.au

Hugh Davies is an artist, curator and researcher of games and play. His practice explores histories of media devices and cultures of games in the Asia Pacific Region. Awarded a PhD in Art, Design and Architecture from Monash University in 2014, Hugh’s studies in game cultures have been supported with fellowships from Tokyo Art and Space, M+ Museum of Visual Culture and the Hong Kong Design Trust. Hugh is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.


Ingrid Richardson is Associate Professor in Digital Media at Murdoch University. She has published on topics such as scientific technovision, virtual and augmented reality, games, mobile media and small-screen practices, urban screens, remix culture and web-based content creation and distribution. She is contributing co-editor of Studying Mobile Media: Cultural Technologies, Mobile Communication and the iPhone (Routledge, 2012), and co-author of Gaming in Social, Locative and Mobile Media (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014).


Ruth De Souza
VC Research Fellow
School: School of Art

Personal website
ruth.de.souza@rmit.edu.au

Dr Ruth De Souza (FACN) is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at RMIT, based in the School of Art and DCP Research Platform. She is a nurse, academic and a community-engaged researcher in gender, race, health and digital technologies. Ruth’s Fellowship will engage health professionals in finding new ways to understand, co-design and implement sustainable cultural safety initiatives in a range of health contexts in response to health inequities.

Prior to moving to Australia in 2013, Ruth worked at AUT University where she taught in the School of Nursing, led the Bachelor of Health Promotion, and was a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Asian and Migrant Health Research. Since her arrival in Australia, Ruth has undertaken a wide range of roles, including leading an undergraduate nursing program at Monash University’s Berwick campus; spearheading a unique community-engaged joint research appointment with North Richmond Community Health exploring how wearables and other digital technologies are perceived by people from culturally and linguistically different backgrounds and co-ordinating an interdisciplinary Data Systems and Society Research Network across the University of Melbourne. Ruth has also investigated the applicability of cultural safety in Australia, working closely with The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), presenting at their National Professional Development Conferences and delivering training on cultural safety. She has also undertaken a two-year cultural safety project with cohealth (a not-for-profit community health organisation) and Our Watch who work for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children.

The Hydrating Bungaribee

Rethinking waste water recovery

The Hydrating Bungarribee project brought together varied expertise from across different schools to creatively reimagine how public open space can transform waste water to contribute to positive recreational, environmental and social outcomes in the face of increasingly extreme climatic events.

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If you would like to get involved with this project, fill out the form below or reach out to project leaders via the contact info provided alongside each bio.

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People


Anton James
Professor of Landscape Architecture
School: Architecture and Urban Design

Personal website
anton.james@rmit.edu.au

Professor Anton James, who trained as a landscape architect and visual artist, has over a period of 20 years designed projects in Australia, Europe and the USA. He has won numerous awards and competitions, both in Australia and overseas. His work continues to focus on design as a means to explore a site’s spatial, environmental and material tension for their potential to enrich the urban experience. 

As a working director of JMD design, Anton’s focus on design and innovation continues to contribute to the quality of the built environment. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Australian Medal for Landscape Architecture for the Paddington Reservoir.

News and updates

23.03.2020

VC FELLOW HIGHLIGHT: DAVID CHESWORTH

David Chesworth
Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow in the School of Art Read more

People

Yoko Akama
Communication Design

Yoko Akama is a design researcher at RMIT University, Australia. She co-leads the Design and Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific network and Design+Ethnography+Futures research program at RMIT

Her Japanese heritage has embedded a Zen-informed relational practice to carve a tao’ (path) in design and has published extensively on this topic. This practice is shaped by working with regional communities in Australia in strengthening their resilience for disaster preparedness, and with Indigenous Nations enact their sovereignty and self-determination. She is an Adjunct Fellow of a ecosystem innovation studio, Re:public Japan, and Visiting Fellow at the Centre of Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University. She serves on several editorial boards of international journals, and conference review committees. She is a recipient of several major research grants in Australia and the UK and winner of the prestigious Good Design Australia Awards in 2014.

David Chesworth
School of Art

David Chesworth is a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at RMIT, based in the School of Art and DCP Research Platform. He is a cross-disciplinary artist, composer and researcher with an experimental background, He has created investigative artworks in visual art, music, screen-based media, performance and installation, and across the wider cultural sector, including major museums and artist run initiatives and the public domain. Recent artworks created with collaborator Sonia Leber were exhibited in the main programs of the Venice and Sydney Biennale’s and the satellite program of Moscow Biennale. His sound works have been presented internationally, including Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival and The Bang on a Can Marathon in New York, and Ars Electronica in Austria (Prix Ars Electronica Honorary Mention).

His recent award-winning PhD investigation into ontologies of listening within visual arts practice interrogated artworks at Dia:Beacon in upstate New York. This led to a practice-based research project as an Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) where he investigated, with Earth scientists and Indigenous traditional owners, different understandings of the world. 

His postdoctoral research will involve the creation of three artworks that investigate sound archives: a collection of early Indigenous recordings, an experimental music archive, and a collection of recently unearthed séance tapes, this will be supplemented with a range of written research outputs. David is also co-creating a large-scale research artwork called What Listening Knows for exhibition in the UK later in the year.

Hugh Davies
Games

Hugh Davies is an artist, curator and researcher of games and play. His practice explores histories of media devices and cultures of games in the Asia Pacific Region. Awarded a PhD in Art, Design and Architecture from Monash University in 2014, Hugh’s studies in game cultures have been supported with fellowships from Tokyo Art and Space, M+ Museum of Visual Culture and the Hong Kong Design Trust. Hugh is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia.

Michelle Aung Thin
School of Media and Communication

Michelle Aung Thin is a writer, former advertising copywriter and scholar. She is a Lecturer at RMIT University and teaches across the disciplines of Creative Writing and Advertising. Her most recent novel, Hasina (Allen & Unwin 2019) is about Rohingya ethnic cleansing and is published as Crossing the River Farak (Annick 2020) in Canada and the USA. Her first novel, The Monsoon Bride, (Text 2011) is set in colonial Burma and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary awards as an unpublished manuscript. Her writing has been included on VCE reading lists and republished on the SBS website. In 2017, she was a National Library of Australia Creative Arts Fellow (supported by the Eva Kollsman and Ray Mathew Trust) and in 2014, the first Asialink writer in residence to Myanmar (funded by Arts Victoria). 

Michelle was a co-director of the non/​fictionLab in 2018 and 2019, is currently a co-director of WrICE, Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange and has served on the board of The Lifted Brow. Her research interests range from the cultural history of southeast Asian hybrid identities to contemporary creative practices in Myanmar and the ethics of writing about difference. Current research includes a project addressing diversity in publishing and a pilot study that aims to reduce sexist advertising by educating the next generation of advertising creatives about harmful stereotypes.